The Day of the Tentacle

Day of the Tentacle Remastered logo.png2016 saw the release of the remastered version of a classic game from twenty-three years ago Lucasarts Day of the Tentacle (Maniac Mansion 2) (available for Windows, Mac and PS4/PSVita)

Day of the Tentacle is a point-and-click time-travel adventure game, very much in the mould of the “Monkey Island” games – similar humour, and puzzles which take the usual “take object to location to do something”, while interacting with a series of bizarre semi-historical characters including George Washington and Ben Franklin…

The core aim of the game is defeat the evil Purple Tentacle – a creature mutated by industrial waste and hell-bent on world domination (as usual), the animation, music and style are very reminiscent of “Scooby Doo” adventures, and you can even play with the original soundtrack and graphics (which look very blocky on modern HD screens!)

They even kept the “game within a game” easter egg – if you want to play the original Maniac Mansion game, it’s in there too…  along with an all-new playalong Director’s commentary from the original creators.

It may be retro, but it harks back to a simpler time in gaming where puzzles ruled the roost rather than shooting and battles…  for £12 it’s a fun way to pass a few hours exploring the way games used to be in the days before HD photo-realistic environments and vast open worlds were the way things

Watch the trailer here:


London Anniversary Games

The Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium

Wow!  What a day.  I was one of the lucky 70,000 or so people to get a ticket for the Sainsburys Anniversay Games held at the Olympic stadium this last weekend.  The stadium is an amazing venue.  One year on, the excitement of having the stadium again roar with the crowds cheering on such names as Usain Bolt and Mo Farrah as they reprised their Olympic triumphs was incredible.

I’m very glad I was able to get to the venue this year, to see the sport it was designed for, before it’s converted into it’s new role as a football ground.

British Athletics
British Athletics



X Forwards and Swarm Backwards

This is a little late in the writing, but a couple of weekends ago I headed down to Thorpe Park with my partner for a bit of rollercoastering.

Thorpe are advertising one “addition” this year – the reversal of the back row of seats on their B&M Wing Coaster “Swarm”, which we found was a very disorientating experience, and found we still prefered riding forwards.

There is however a second “addition” – the refit of the ride formerly known as “X:\No Way Out” – now simply “X”.  The ride has been re branded as a Ministry of Sound nightclub, with appropriate music and lighting enhancing the feeling of being on a rollercoaster through a nightclub.

Gone are the confusing pauses from the old ride, the train flew through the first and second “holding points” (the third remained, but I suspect was just due to the spacing between the trains at the time we rode).

The biggest change though, and the one that takes the ride from a “weird kiddie coaster with strange effects and no continuity” to “fun, enjoyable and really re-rideable” is the reversal of the trains.  No longer do you vanish into the darkness backwards – now the train is running forwards, the restraints are better, and you can really enjoy the ride.

The other bonus is that as it’s not really being promoted, it’s a hidden gem with a 10 minute queue (on a day when Swarm’s queue was 90 minutes).


More Google Frustrations

Following the well publicised announcement of the demise of Google Reader, another annoyance related to Google has changed today.

At least, that’s who Microsoft are blaming

I use Google Calendar a lot.  I love the way it synchronises my calendars (I have several including my personal calendar and a calendar shared with my partner) across all my devices I use, my tablet, my phone (both are Android) and my PC’s at home and work.  For me, portability of my calendar is essential!

My home PCs are on Windows 8, and I was using the Modern UI Calendar app to view my calendar.

Today there was an update to Mail and Calendar in Windows 8, and the Google Calendar synchronisation has gone, replaced with an error message:

“we can’t connect because Google no longer supports Exchange ActiveSync. Reconnect to get your emails and contacts using a different method. Cancel to save your email drafts and reconnect later.”

Having followed the instructions, email and contacts are working again (no doubt using IMAP behind-the-scenes) but my Calendar is gone – just the birthdays of my contacts remain…

However, there’s no mention in that error message of Calendar, just email and contacts – A bit of reading reveals that that because Google are stopping support for ActiveSync, the Windows 8 calendar no longer works and it’s apparent that Microsoft haven’t implemented alternative support instead (not really a surprise)

I’ve had a quick look on the Windows 8 store, and there’s not an obvious alternative ModernUI calendar app which will support Google Calendar sync so it’s back to the web-based calendar for me (until I find an equally functional alternative calendar system, ideally open source and which I can run on my own servers and have full control over)

Hopefully Microsoft will find a way to make this work, or there’s no way I could consider a Windows handset for my next phone, a shared calendar that syncs to all the devices both me and my partner use (which includes Windows 7 and 8 PC’s and Android phones), is an essential feature for me.